Ilbury Iron Age Fort

DFMG logoSponsored by Deddington Farmer's Market,
selling the best of local produce 12 months of the year.

Based on information from volume 11 of the Victoria County History, 1983.


The road from Hempton to Duns Tew, called Ilbury Way in the 16th century, passes through the deserted village of Ilbury. Nowadays there is very little to see - unless you explore. Ilbury is the site of a prehistoric Iron Age hill fort which was constructed on an outcrop of ironstone. It is now partially ploughed out. It is recorded that in 1086 there was a small estate at Ilbury but that in 1306 the community was too small to merit separate taxation. A map of 1619 shows only two dwellings, Ilbury Farm and the mill.

No reason for Ilbury's decline is known, but certainly its result was the creation of an inclosed pasture farm which by the early 17th century was used chiefly for sheep grazing: Ilbury Farm in 1619 was called the Shepherd's House, and seems to have been built after the inclosure of the fields conveniently near the centre, whereas Ilbury hamlet lay at their extreme south-east. The site of the hamlet was rediscovered in 1980 in a field west of the lane from Hempton to Duns Tew, just north of Ilbury bridge.

The former village street was the present east-west hedge or ditch and a lot of 12th or 13th century pottery has been found in the area. Ilbury Farm, on a point close to the northern point of the prehistoric camp, remained in use until the early 20th century. In 1830 it was described as an old stone and slated farmhouse surrounded by barns and stables, of which a few remains are still visible. The present Ilbury Farm, about 300m to the north-west, stands on the site of a field barn built in the 18th century.